The Mourne Young Defenders Flute Band was formed in 1976, the prime mover then and now is George Ballance (in spite of what others might say, George really is a nice bloke. GB, make sure the cheque is on the way!).
The band was originally "First Flute", commonly known as Blood & Thunder, which is sort of the heavy-metal of flute band music. Since then, the band progressed to playing "Melody Flute", and also "Grade 4", which utilises a piccolo in addition to the B Flats (actually they are A Flats but it's a common misconception) used by First Flute bands and where the B Flats play quasi part flute. Nowadays, however, the band prefer to be known as a traditional Corps of Drums who play "Mainly Military" music that can be used to tow marchers but where entertainment is our primary objective. This evolution might be seen as a retrograde step; many of the other "melody bands" have opted for an orchestral sound that is more typically associated with the Grade 1 part-flute bands. Indeed, several melody bands utilise trained flautists who are more commonly associated with these senior bands. However, not only have we realised that we cannot compete with the musicianship of the likes of Dr Windsor Hylands' excellent Ballygowan Flute Band (current world champions), but more importantly the marching orchestra was simply not what MYD was about. We are a marching corps of drums with no pretensions of classical grandeur!
However, corps of drums music is not simply first flute with the addition of a piccolo (nor the F - flutes that the band also employ). Our style of playing swaps the brash volume of blood and thunder for an emotional intricacy, and this is itself reflected in the military tunes that many melody bands play. How else would young men march willingly into battle? Corps of drums music is designed to stir the blood and it is this that the MYD strive to achieve when they perform.
The military melody played by this modern day "South Down Militia" has won it many honours and the MYD remain one of the best marching flute bands in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
These honours include:
· All Ireland Melody Flute Champions
· The Queen's Silver Jubilee Shield
Best Ulster band in The Belfast 12th of July Parade - the band has won it six times in the last dozen years, more than any other band in that time (we can also count!). The excellent Millar Memorial Flute Band from Belfast are this minute polishing it for its return to Kilkeel! We hope so ... Damn! The deaf judges have given it back to the boys from Belfast. Keep polishing it lads! Oh mmm ah and well done!
· Best Band On Parade Quaich
Trophy for the best band that is not from Scotland in the Glasgow version of the 12th of July Parade. We have won this trophy three times out of four attempts and are current holders having beaten off some of the best opposition around - including the said Millar Memorial (!), Pride of Ballinran (won it 1999) and some of the biggest and best of the B & T bands from God's own "ould sod".
We would also like to acknowledge the continued support of the loyal fraternities
· Best Band on Parade in several parades "on tour" in Canada 1991.
The band has also played in numerous civic occasions and recently took part in "Our Heritage" evening that was organised in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.
While the Mourne Young Defenders has recorded a CD (available when you see them!) it is first and foremost an "aural-visual experience". The band has two of Ireland's best Drum Majors and have a drum section that is second to none (DM, you can put your cheque in along with George's one and post it on). From the drummers' hob-nailed, polished-toed boots to their US Marine Uniforms the Mourne Young Defenders is a consummate marching experience and have to be Seen & Heard.